A Team of Our Own

Named as a co-conspirator in the Watergate investigation and about to become impeached, Richard Nixon becomes the first U.S. president to resign. Long lines and high prices at the gas pumps are results of the energy crisis caused by the OPEC oil embargo. Meanwhile, there is greatness in sporting life, with Hank Aaron surpassing Babe Ruth in career home runs and Muhammad Ali reclaiming the heavyweight crown with an upset of undefeated George Foreman. Before resigning, Nixon addresses a crowd of 85,000 in Spokane for the opening of Expo ’74. Seattle celebrates its first Gay Pride Week and by year’s end an NFL expansion franchise is granted to Seattle.

The value of first impressions cannot be overstated. That first look, that first sighting, that first visceral emotion can extend far into the future, sometimes for a lifetime. Washington’s first encounter with a professional soccer club all its own has been compared to a fairytale, full of such romance, optimism and magic. It is called, by some, Camelot, a reference to the legends of King Arthur, which launched a movie and major musical, and the early days of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. For that summer, everything about the newly-formed Seattle Sounders and their fast-won fans seems to align perfectly.

It all begins less than six months before the first kick, when the North American Soccer League awards an expansion franchise. The ownership group is a Who’s Who of local businessmen whose names, such as Nordstrom, Sarkowsky, Skinner, Bean and Wright, lend instant credibility, far beyond what other NASL teams could comprehend. Their choice for the face of the franchise also proves providential. Head coach John Best is an accomplished player with movie-star looks, charm and eloquent British speaking.

Beyond media appearances, Best recruits a mixture of young and veteran players, all committed to playing for one another and growing the game. Twelve are British, with four Americans, including two locals, Ballan Campeau and Roger Goldingay. The foreigners are largely acquired on loan and arrive just a few days prior to the opening match, at Los Angeles. If Best is the visionary for what the Sounders can become, his lieutenant proves to be the galvanizing force on the field. Jimmy Gabriel, a legend at Everton for much of his career, is the most accomplished player. He is both assistant coach and captain, starting in central defense.

With the only other major sports – Seattle Sonics and Washington Huskies football – in the offseason, the Sounders’ promotional efforts are unfettered, and business partnerships blossom. As the season approaches there is a growing buzz, although much of it is curiosity driven. Youth soccer has been growing throughout the city and suburbs yet there is no expectation that crowds will number more than 6-7,000 or approximately the gate for past international exhibitions. Still, that would be above the overall NASL average of 5,800 in 1973.

To almost everyone’s surprise, over 12,000 (just a few hundred shy of capacity) descend upon Memorial Stadium for the inaugural home game versus Denver. Some were adults, many ethnic, who played or watched any high-level game in these parts. Many were families of young players. Broadcaster Bob Robertson has barely set the scene when he barks his first goal call as Willie Penman scores in the second minute, then John Rowlands doubles it in the 13th. In between the goals in a 4-0 win, there was a genuine appreciation for the skill, endurance and physicality.

“When they started moving the ball around and passing the ball, I sensed there was a kind of hush that fell over the crowd,” noted Robertson, who had played himself as a boy. “It was sort of like, ‘What’s this?’”

While the victory was emphatic and the goals aplenty, it was what happened moments after the final whistle which seemed to make the most lasting impression. Said Robertson: “I’m not sure whether somebody suggested it or whether they just did it, but they went to the center circle and turned and faced out in a big circle and waved to the crowd. As I saw it at that time, that’s where the love affair was born. That’s where they became the lads. They were Seattle’s team at that point.”

There will be tragedy, the loss of ever-popular Pepe Fernandez to a broken leg. There will be ultimate disappointment, the elimination from playoff contention in the final week. But there is no shortage of heroics from the likes of John Rowlands, Gabriel, Hank Liotart, Davey Butler and Barry Watling. By the fifth home date, there is no more space for fans, even though management keeps adding temporary seats.

Fernandez, who would be greeted with long-lasting ovations when he returned, on crutches, remembers it as something very special. “There was a connection with the team and the fans. We would spend time with the kids, we would take pictures and sign autographs with the kids,” he said. “It was a beautiful connection, a beautiful time.”

Year in Review
SEATTLE SOUNDERS
1974
Season Record
13-7, 3rd West
Coach
John Best (1st year)
Best XI
Barry Watling, John Rowlands
Top Scorer
David Butler, John Rowlands (10 goals)
U.S. Open Cup
Seattle Heidelberg, West semifinals
Men's Collegiate Postseason
Seattle Pacific D2 Runner-up
NCSC Men's Champion
Seattle Pacific
NWAC Men's Champion
Green River
WIAA Boys Champion
Blanchet
Largest Attendance
14,876, Sounders (4 times)
Largest Amateur Attendance
2,500, St. Louis v San Jose State

1974: A Team of Our Own

It's virtually love at first sight for Seattle and its first professional team, the Sounders.

Heidelberg Huskies Romp
April 27, 1974

Ward Forrest's hat trick provides more than enough firepower for the Heidelberg Huskies to dispatch San Jose Portuguese, 4-0, in a West Region semifinal for the National Amateur Cup. Tage Christiansen, like Forrest, a UW varsity player, adds the other goal at Interbay.

Rowlands, Watling Make Best XI
August 13, 1974

Seattle's John Rowlands and Barry Watling are each named to the NASL first team all-stars. Rowlands, the sturdy center forward, scored 10 goals and added eight assists to finish fourth in total points. Watling led all goalkeepers with a 0.80 goals-against average. Both are imports playing on loan from English clubs.

Falcons Nearly Pull Off Comeback
November 30, 1974

After yielding three Adelphi goals in the first 24 minutes, Seattle Pacific pulls two goals back through Kit Zell but cannot equalize in the NCAA championship game, falling, 3-2, in snow and sub-freezing temperatures in St. Louis. Zell finishes with 16 goals for the season, including five in four postseason games.

Sounders Blanked Despite Watling's 16 Saves
May 25, 1974

For the first time in their brief existence the Seattle Sounders are held scoreless in a 1-0 loss at Denver. Barry Watling is credited with 16 saves on 23 Dynamo shots. Ian Robins nets the sole goal 39 seconds into the game at Mile High Stadium.

Value Metals Add Trophy
April 28, 1974

Steve Furjesi scores as Value Metals of Seattle claims the Five-a-Side championship. Value Metals prevails, 1-0, over the Vancouver Spartans Bs at Memorial Stadium.

Boys Soccer Becomes WIAA Sport
March 28, 1974

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) adds boys' soccer as a championship sport, beginning in spring of 1975. Only 35 high schools in the Seattle-Tacoma area have soccer programs at the time, however the announcement is the impetus for other schools in thriving junior soccer areas to begin varsity play.

Blanchet Takes 'State'
May 25, 1974

Rallying from two goals down, Blanchet High School defeats Shorecrest, 3-2, for the unofficial state championship at Memorial Stadium. George Brown gets the winner with 8 minutes left for the Braves, who had also beaten the Scots in a preseason tournament. Kelly Gordon and Pat Bates had brought Blanchet level after John Anderson and Russ Eaden put Shorecrest in front.

Falcons End Huskies' Dominance
November 6, 1974

Kit Zell nets the opening blow as Seattle Pacific all but clinches its first Northwest Collegiate Soccer Conference championship with a 1-1 tie at Washington. Danny Vaughn equalizes for the Huskies with 5 minutes to go. The Falcons snap a 7-game UW win streak and back-to-back conference crowns.

Three Youth Teams Go To Europe
June 25, 1974

Four-time state cup champion Lake City Hawks are among three Washington boys' teams leaving for summer tours of Europe. U11 Lake City recycled bottles and washed cars to raise funds for the 25-day visit to West Germany. Also in Deutschland are the Hillwood Hawks and the Arco Oilers of West Seattle. Meanwhile, 80 youth from Eintracht SC are visiting the Puget Sound area.

Hawks Prove Best in West
May 26, 1974

Seattle's Lake City Hawks run roughshod at the Pacific Coast International tournament in Vancouver. After routing Oregon's Rockwood Pioneers, 13-0, in the semifinals, the state U11 champions drub Dunbar, 5-2, for the title.

Sounders Play Inaugural Match
May 5, 1974

The Sounders make their official debut, facing another NASL expansion team, the Los Angeles Aztecs, at East L.A. College as the surrounding Latin community celebrates Cinco de Mayo. John Rowlands scores the historic first goal, briefly tying it at 1-1. Doug McMillan scored his second goal just before halftime, and the Aztecs prevail, 2-1.

Seattle Scores First NASL Sellout
June 22, 1974

Memorial Stadium is packed with 13,876 fans, making Seattle the first club in NASL history to achieve a complete sellout. The Sounders, on a sweltering early summer evening, win their fourth straight match, 2-0, over the defending champion Philadelphia behind a David Butler brace.

Cintrex Surface Introduced
November 1, 1974

Seattle Parks Department installs a cinder surface made from crushed brick at Lower Woodland Park. Cintrex alleviates problems with puddling and mud but proves abrasive on legs and arms. Meanwhile, a new close-fibered grass surface with improved drainage is laid at West Seattle Stadium. Earlier, in late August, a new carpet of Astroturf was installed at Memorial Stadium.

They Shall Be Called Sounders
January 22, 1974

Seattle's new NASL club will be known as the Sounders. That name received 32 percent of the mail-in votes, with five other finalists – Cascades, Evergreens, Mariners, Schooners and Sockeyes - finishing well behind. Initially, more than 300 nicknames were submitted.

Green River Grabs First CC Title
December 6, 1974

Thanks to a Joe Scorda goal, Green River takes the inaugural Puget Sound Regional Community College championship, 1-0, over Bellevue at Lower Woodland Park. Scorda scores midway through the first half as the Gators prevail. Eight teams compete for the title.

Rochester Protest Prompts Replay
August 9, 1974

A protest by Rochester results in NASL commissioner Phil Woosnam ordering a hasty replay with the Sounders at Memorial Stadium. The Lancers lodged their complaint after Seattle watered the artificial surface before kickoff of a 2-0 win. The Sounders respond by accruing an added bonus point in the 3-0 replay win on dry turf. Hank Liotart sets up two of the goals.

Seattle Opens Arms, Hearts to Sounders
May 12, 1974

It's a storybook start to professional soccer in Seattle. A near-capacity crowd of 12,132 comes to their feet less than two minutes after kickoff as Willie Penman scores the opener vs. Denver. John Rowlands adds two more goals before intermission. After the final whistle of the 4-0 victory, Sounders players gather in the circle to applaud and wave to the fans who, in turn, roar their approval once again.

Sounders Win Out, Miss Playoffs
August 11, 1974

Seattle goes undefeated in its final four games and earns the sixth-highest point total yet misses the NASL playoffs. The Sounders (13-7), after a victory over Vancouver, 2-1, in the finale, finish two points behind San Jose for the Western Division's second slot. Division winner Los Angeles, which Seattle beat by a 5-1 score, goes on to take the championship.

Allen Scores Four at Western
November 16, 1974

Tim Allen proves an unruly guest, smashing a record four goals past Western Washington in Seattle University’s 6-3 win at Bellingham. It is Allen’s fourth multi-goal game and gives him 13 for the season. Steve Van Gaver nets his eighth. Dave Hansen scores twice for the Vikings.

Metro League Moves to Spring
March 24, 1974

After four seasons of winter scheduling, during which Memorial Stadium was affected by cold, rain and occasional snow, Seattle's Metro League switches to a spring schedule. It also conforms to WIAA championship schedule, set for 1975.

State Women's Association Forms
February 13, 1974

Mike Ryan organizes a meeting at Seattle's Sherwood Inn for those women interested in forming a league. Over the next month, the Washington State Women's Soccer Association is formed, and Ryan, the Washington Huskies head coach, is elected the first president. The 10-team league features players ranging from teens to over 40, with clubs named Capitol Hill Streakers, University District Geoducks and West Seattle Ladybugs.

Sounders Hold Local Tryouts
March 2, 1974

Sixty trialists attend the Sounders' first tryout at Bellevue Community College. Of those, Roger Goldingay, Ballan Campeau and Dave Landry eventually make the team.

Eddie Craggs Passes
June 16, 1974

Just five weeks after being greeted by cheerful applause at the Sounders' inaugural home match, Edmund G. "Eddie" Craggs dies of cancer at age 77. Born in England, Craggs brought his family to Seattle in 1947. The Gaffer soon after began coaching at St. Anne's Parish and founded the Fremont Boys Club. The latter grew into the Buchan Bakers, a a six-time state first division champion. A National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee, he coordinated weekly state league doubleheaders at Lower Woodland and was a longtime secretary to the WSSFA.

Seattle Pacific Reaches NCAA Final
November 28, 1974

A rebound conversion by Jose Reyes in the 144th minute lifts Seattle Pacific over Eastern Illinois, 3-2, in a four-overtime NCAA Division II semifinal thriller in St. Louis. The Falcons are now unbeaten in 11 games (8-0-3). Had the game been tied after the fourth overtime, the tiebreaker of most corner kicks would apply. Eastern held a 4-1 advantage.

Black Diamond Icon Weston Passes
March 21, 1974

Albert Victor "Vic" Weston, one of the state's top players during the early 20th Century, passes at age 76. Weston was a Black Diamond native, miner and later served as mayor, from 1969-74. He starred for Black Diamond, Carbonado, West Seattle and Renton clubs. He served as WSSFA secretary from 1944-56 and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1956.

The spectators, instead of dashing for the exits at the game’s end, stood and applauded the Sounders for several minutes.
Vince O'Keefe, Seattle Times reporter, on first Sounders home game atmosphere
We look forward to the years ahead. I think soccer is the wave of the future. Our game plan is for crowds of 40,000 within five years.
Sounders general manager Jack Daley
Our town, you might say, is hungry. And when the Sounders burst onto the pitch, the fans reacted like starvelings at the sight of food. The ovation was an explosion of welcome. An inventory of that crowd would have itemized hardcore ethnics, kids and parents from the sprouting junior program and some of the merely curious.
Hy Zimmerman, Seattle Times columnist, describing Sounders inaugural home match
We turned Seattle on to soccer. It became the ‘in’ thing to do, tickets became hard to acquire, a prestige item.
Walt Daggatt, Sounders managing general partner
Collegiate Men's Records
Central Washington (club) n/a
Gonzaga (club) n/a
Pacific Lutheran 7-6-2
Puget Sound 0-9-0
Seattle University 6-6-1
Seattle Pacific 11-4-5
Washington 15-3-3
Washington State (club) n/a
Western Washington (club) 1-5-4
Whitman n/a
Washington State Youth Cup Winners
Age BoysGirls
U9 West Seattle Lions Club Cubs (SYSA)Skyway Reds (GRJSA)
U10 Lakewood Kiwanis Lancers (TPCJSA)Highline Good Guys (HAS)
U11 Totem Tornado (FWSA)Fircrest Sweetfoots (TPCJSA)
U12 Lake City Hawks (SYSA)Totem Royal Blues (FWSA)
U13 CWA Oilers (SYSA)Shoreline Roadrunners (SYSA)
U14 Nortac Quicksteps (TPCJSA)Lake City Liberators (SYSA)
U15 Lake Washington Royals (LWSA)Midway Dirty Dozen (HAS)
U16 Newport Huskies (EYSA)Ed-Lyn Hyseter (SSCJSA)
U17 Sunset Huskies (EYSA)
U19 Newport Hills Bombers (EYSA)
On this Day in History
September 29, 1980
Gonzaga opens its first varsity men’s soccer season by defeating Brigham Young, 4-2, in Spokane. The Bulldogs, coached by Alex Barr, are Washington’s first varsity college program east of the Cascades. They go 11-2-1 while playing exclusively club programs. The Zags had fielded a club program since 1972. Olympia’s Evergreen State College also fields its first varsity team in 1980, going 10-11-0 under Willie Lippmann.
More from 1980 ›
April 17, 2010
Michael Fucito's first professional goal comes deep in stoppage time to deliver a 1-0 win over Kansas City. Fucito, who didn't see action in 2009, scores just 22 minutes into his second Sounders stint. A quickly-taken throw by Brad Evans finds Fucito behind the defense and 1-on-1 with Wizards keeper Jimmy Nielsen, who had not previously allowed a goal. He lashes it past Nielsen in the 92nd minute. The visitors nearly equalize immediately, but Chance Myers is denied by Kasey Keller. Fucito's goal, seven minutes after entering match, begins a series of late winners vs. Kansas City.
More from 2010 ›
November 10, 2007
Sarah Martinez opens the scoring with her record 49th career goal and later adds an assist, leading Seattle Pacific past Cal State Dominguez Hills, 3-0, in an NCAA Division II second round game at Interbay Stadium. Meredith Teague assists on all three goals, and the unblemished Falcons (21-0-0) dominate play (18-2 shots). After Martinez scores connects in the fourth minute with her 17th of her senior season, super sub Amanda Johnson doubles the lead in the 40th and Jocelyn Charette closes out the scoring, heading in a cross from Teague in the 59th.
More from 2007 ›
November 5, 1983
A crowd of 12,284 is on hand for the inaugural Tacoma Stars game in the Tacoma Dome. Danko Grgic scores the Stars' first goal, but the L.A. Lazers go on to win, 6-2.
More from 1983 ›